The 7 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home in Florida

Because life’s a beach in the Sunshine State.

With 1,350 miles of beautiful coastline and sunny weather most of the year, it should come as no surprise that Florida's real estate market is among the top-performing in the country. And since many people still work remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sunshine State is proving to be a particularly attractive place to own a vacation home.

"I would describe Florida's real estate market right now as hot, just like our weather," said Dina Goldentayer, executive director of sales with Douglas Elliman in Florida. "There is very low inventory and very high demand."

Goldentayer explained that while this doesn't necessarily translate into bidding wars, prospective buyers should be ready to "act quickly and to not think that something would be still on the market when they come back to town a few months later."

According to a market report for Florida's East Coast by One Sotheby's International Realty, median single-family home prices in the region have reached a record high, with almost a third of all sales (houses and condos) currently selling above listing price.

Most buyers looking for a vacation home in Florida are in the market for properties in luxury buildings with lots of high-end amenities, in proximity to restaurants and sporting events. "And views of the ocean," said Goldentayer. "You can never get tired of looking at those."

If you're thinking about investing in a vacation home in Florida, here are the best Florida towns, cities, and destinations to target.

Miami Beach

Empty Ocean Drive in the morning, South Beach, Miami, USA

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As the most international destination in South Florida and home to some of the country's best hotels and resorts, restaurants, beaches, shops, and entertainment, Miami Beach is the ultimate vacation spot — and the city's real estate market fully reflects that. Construction is booming in the area with developments such as 57 Ocean Miami Beach, Ten30 South Beach, Monaco Yacht Club & Residences, and Monad Terrace making their debut in the city. And given that the region is attracting an unprecedented number of visitors, it's safe to say that even if you don't end up spending much time in your new Miami Beach property, it'll have plenty of rental potential, too.

Palm Beach

The Port of Palm Beach, Florida, USA

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Palm Beach's exclusive and glamorous lifestyle appeals to buyers looking to enjoy its world-class shopping and pristine beaches in a serene and sophisticated environment. The real estate market in the city where many of the country's wealthiest individuals own a vacation property is extremely hot right now.

In early 2021, sales across all housing types in Palm Beach were up, setting an all-time record, Palm Beach Daily News reported. Only in the first quarter of 2021, sales exceeded $1.2 billion compared to $398 million for the same period in 2020. And in one instance, a new custom-built compound sold for $26.16 million in January only to be re-listed a month later for $45 million — and yes, it sold again pretty quickly.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal

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Known as the boating capital of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale is the perfect vacation spot for those who like to enjoy daily sailing trips. The city's many canals, sun-drenched beaches — seven miles of them! — and bustling art scene are why so many people are looking for vacation properties here. In July 2021, the average sale price in Fort Lauderdale for a single-family home soared to a whopping 60 percent over July 2020. So, prepare to pay more than the list price if you want to call Fort Lauderdale your permanent vacation spot.

St. Augustine

Palm trees and historic homes in the old town in St. Augustine

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History buffs will love seeing what the oldest city in the U.S. has to offer. Between its many Gilded Age architectural masterpieces, gorgeous beaches, charming cobblestone streets, and eclectic stores, one thing is certain — boredom is never an option here. And while the city is more affordable, the real estate market is still very competitive, with some properties getting snatched off the market within 24 hours. St. Augustine actually has one of the fastest growing markets in Florida, so if you're considering this city, your investment is certainly likely to pay off.

Pompano Beach

The Hillsboro Lighthouse, Pompano Beach, Florida

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Nestled just north of Fort Lauderdale, this former sleepy beach town is now an up-and-coming destination on the luxury real estate market in South Florida. With a new crop of developments such as the oceanfront Solemar and its sister property Casamar, which offer residences with unobstructed ocean views at a lower rate than those in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach is a great long-term investment. The city has spent millions of dollars rehabilitating its beachfront, adding a new fishing pier and a 663-spot pier parking garage. By 2025, Pompano Beach's new downtown Innovation District will be a reality, bringing a vibrant and pedestrian-friendly, urban, mixed-use downtown area.

Tampa

Waterfront residences on Hillsborough Bay in Tampa, Florida

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Let's get one thing straight — Tampa was popular long before Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Between its theme parks — Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island — waterfront entertainment, delicious food, and diverse cultural scene, the city has long been a favorite vacation spot for families. In 2020, Tampa was ranked as one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. Currently, the Tampa Bay area is adding $13 billion worth of new developments and improvements. Major projects include The Related Group's first-ever collaboration to launch The Ritz-Carlton Residences, The Residences at the Tampa EDITION, and a $400 million renovation of the Westshore Marina District that includes plans for several new condo buildings, townhouses, and restaurants.

Naples

The sun goes down at the Naples Pier in the Gulf of Mexico

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Family-friendly Naples offers laid-back luxury, great beaches, and many golf courses. The city, known as one of the most luxurious communities along the Gulf Coast, is home to many opulent beachfront mansions. The legendary Naples Beach Club is currently undergoing a complete transformation to turn it into a Four Seasons hotel and residences property, adding to the area's appeal and real estate value.

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